I need to meet more people.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Yesterday, as I felt a giddy flutter of happiness when the clerk at Quimby's Bookstore told me I didn't have to show ID because "Aww, you've been in here," it occurred to me: I should get out more. Maybe I could be feeling the giddy flutter more frequently! Maybe people would start recognizing me at the bar and the coffee shop, not just the nerd heaven down at Quimby's, where a red-letter day is when the new Chris Ware comic book comes out or Jessica Abel comes to do a book signing.
All of which brings me to my current dilemma: should I invest in a car with my hapless boyfriend, given his history of financial misdeeds and my history of financial hyper-cheapitude? The current situation has long outlived its sensibleness: we ride everywhere in his ancient Honda two-seater thugmobile, which is referred to by all members of my family as "that deathtrap" and which occasionally draws alarmingly envious looks from our local neighborhood teen boys, in whose eyes you can almost view the reflection of the car tricked out with a spoiler, iridescent paint and one of those super-loud exhaust systems that signal the approach of a very fast dragster.
Plus he currently drives me everywhere, which lends an unpleasant note of dependency to the relationship.
Thoughts? I like the Subaru wagons, mid-90s models. Then he could transport his eight thousand pounds of ugly DJ equipment to his gigs out in Hick Haven, and I could go birding and take myself to the bar and what have you. Go out more, I mean.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
sunset facing southwest from New Providence Island, Bahamas
more YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON
We saw this YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON in a remote village on New Providence Island in the Bahamas. The birds down there are utterly fearless, and as relaxed as the local human population.
Other birds spied in and around Nassau during the past week: PALM, BLACK-THROATED BLUE, KIRTLAND'S and PRAIRIE WARBLERS, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, KESTRELS, NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRDS and something I regrettably missed photographing but was most likely a CLAPPER RAIL. Other wildlife we encountered were Bahamian lizards and snakes, near the tall jack pines that line the beaches along Paradise Island. I did not notice any unusual gulls among the RING-BILLED and HERRING gulls.
there are invisible owls everywhere
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Sometimes being a birdwatcher is like being paranoid--if the definition of paranoia is that you believe you possess knowledge that no one else has. Like the knowledge that, as the sun sets, owls are alighting on branches all around me, and my eyes never quite adjust to the dimness in time for me to catch a glimpse. Owls are one type of bird i really want to see more of--I've only ever seen one in the wild, and its wildness was called immediately into question due to the fact that we saw it at the zoo. But it wasn't in a cage or anything, that's why I say it was in the wild.
I was told by an Audubon naturalist once that you should look deep into every hollow hole in a tree-trunk to check for a pair of eyes glowing back at you. Who can resist that kind of invitation? So i've been looking ever since, with no result. I've stopped repeating that advice to people until such time as I've verified its value independently, e.g. seen a dang owl.
There's been a flood of snowy owl sightings in Illinois recently, including one subject line of an email claiming to have found an owl that had been killed by a car. This evidently happens quite often when there is an irruption of a certain owl species in an area outside its usual wintering grounds. Snowy owls are supposed to occur here, but not really in the numbers that people are seeing them now. ANyway. How ironic would it be if I missed seeing my first snowy owl cause I went to the Bahamas in January?
I want to amend that definition of paranoia above. I think there is a darker sort of edge to it. Webster's second definition (the non-pathologizing one) is "a tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others"; in other words, lack of faith. I definitely have been suffering from that lately and am aswirl with thoughts of how to have more faith. More trust in the world, in others, you name it--there is that in me that wishes to control all aspects of a situation because i think no one can do a better job with it than me. Sha right! The paranoia I'm guilty of has its roots in a family history rife with betrayals of the small and large kind--and it wasn't always necessarily me being betrayed or doing the betraying. And I'm certainly not capable of doing a better job of most things than anybody else. So I caution myself to have a bit more compassion all around--compassion for myself for being only human (and a fairly dilettantish and anxious human to boot) and compassion for those around me who are only doing their level best, after all.
In other news, the delete key has been my friend today. In other news, i enjoy typing "in other news" almost as much as I enjoy saying it to begin many sentences.
I did not know coral was so hard to grow.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Pop quiz! Which public city aquariums in the US grow their own coral in-house?
the answer: well, I can't remember exactly. But the list isn't long. And it includes Chicago, Monterey Bay, New York, Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Hawaii.
We waltzed past the security checkpoint in the Shedd Aquarium into the elevator that shuttled us into the coral reef exhibit, blissfully ignorant of the fact that this was a special thingie with separate admission--admission that we never paid. Oh well! Facing us now were floor-to-ceiling walls of blue light, branching, massive, brain and other corals of every color in the spectrum--and they were undulating, alive. We were looking at an ecosystem which in a wild sea situation would take, oh, nine hundred years to grow--and the invisible hands at the aquarium had done it in five. Evidently growing this stuff takes like seventy horticulturalists and marine biologists and about eight different types of gro-lights and temperature gauges and swirling currents that swish up against the baby coral plants just so. Actually corals are animals but they only stick to one spot their whole life so it is easy to think of them as plants. S. wished for a camera for like the ninety hundredth time today. I wished for nothing.
Except maybe an ichthyologist. The Shedd does this funny thing with the exhibits where they give you demographic and lifecycle information about a select species among the eight or nine that might be sharing the same bit of watery real estate, and leaves you to sort of guess about the other guys. I find it quite tyrannical, actually.
As jaded as I've become about the spectacle and the simulacrum, I should have found this entire aquarium yawnworthy. Instead I was engrossed and found myself in love with boa constrictors all over again. Oh, and penguins. God damn those attention stealing penguins.
I am nervous about my upcoming trip.
Friday, January 06, 2006
For some reason I have been feeling some pressure about getting back into birding. Our upcoming trip to the Bahamas might be a case in point. It's not a birding trip, and I know it sounds decadent to be heading to the Islands in the middle of winter, but I am hoping to see at least a few life list birds while we're down there. But what if I don't see any? Now that I have this blog, I feel obliged to give the people at least one or two images, at least a recorded sighting of a Stripe-headed Tanager
or a Clapper Rail
, if not the world's largest colony of West Indian Flamingoes
on the southernmost Bahamian island of Inagua.
ok so i am getting kind of excited now from looking at those pictures.
But the pressure is still there. Maybe this has to do with my recent insights into what birding does for my creative process--it isn't quite necessary, but it serves as a generative sort of sediment for growing new projects...what would you call that...fertilizer! Birding is the fertilizer.
So now I am not just birding to look at birds anymore? this is getting confusing. Isn't there a thing in science where once you start observing something then the thing you are observing starts to change because it is being observed? It feels like that. That is the pressure I am feeling.
I don't even know if this is making sense.
And hey--did anyone have any thoughts to share about the story?
I'm ready to hear them whenever. I just realized it took me a month to post the whole thing, so I'd like feedback about the pacing of it as well. Was i too slow to post? I never know how quickly people are getting this stuff.